Anekantvada:- As perceived by me

I would first request to please be unbiased and put everything you know of Anekantvaad aside.

I have seen many people giving different explanations for Anekantavada. But the story of “the elephant” is universal with respect to anekantvad. According to me, the explanation of anekantvada given by some has no relation with the story of the elephant. So I would like to put my viewpoints on Anekantvada here with the help of that story.

There were 6 blind men who had never seen anything. They just visualize thing by the perception they get by touching them. One day an elephant came to their village. All were very excited to know about the elephant. They all touched different parts of the elephant and deduced how the elephant looks like by the perception they got by touching the elephant.

So all the 6 had a different perception of the elephant.
One of them touched the tail of the elephant and thought it is similar to a rope. Similarly who touched the stomach felt it is like a wall. The one who touched the leg thought that the elephant is like a pillar. The one who touched the ear felt it is like a fan. The one who touched the trunk felt it like a snake. The last who touched the tusks felt it like a spear. Then all the 6 started fighting and saying his perspective is right and others are wrong.

So they all visualized the elephant differently. If we combine all the 6 the elephant would look like this.

Then a wise man with the ability to see came to them. He told them that all of them are right “in their perspective”, but none of them is totally correct.

The wise man here is symbolic of “Kevali Bhagwan”. All the 6 blind men are symbolic of people like us. Now, let’s take the example of 2 people only for simplicity. There may be 4 possibilities here:

  1. Both of them are partially right. As seen in the above example
  2. One of them is right and one of them is wrong.
  3. Both of them are wrong.
  4. One of them is partially right and other is wrong.

Some people can ask if a person is killing beings, how can we apply Anekantvada there?
Answer: The person may be right in his perspective, maybe he is a devotee of Kali and he is taught that Kali wants sacrifice. He is right in his own perspective, though he is wrong.

let’s create sub-cases here too.

A. A brahmin says that Kali is like our mother, but it is not good to sacrifice animals. Here 4 case is applied. The person doing the sacrifice is wrong and the brahmin is partially right. He is right as he said, killing is wrong.

B. A Jain muni says Kali cannot do anything and killing is absolutely wrong. Here case 2 is applied. The person doing the sacrifice is wrong and the Muni is right.

The aim of Anekantvada is that to teach us that others “may” also be right in their perspective. This concept is widely accepted, it is also covered in the syllabus for UPSC, SSC, IAS, NEET etc.

Significance: This concept is used as a tool for non violence. By knowing that others may also be right in their perspective, sheds our “Kashayes” and it will reduce violence.

Practical use by Acharya Hemchandra

Anekāntavāda was effectively used by Ācārya Hemacandra to convert king Kumarapala of Gujarat to Jainism. Certain Brahmins who were jealous of Hemacandras rising popularity with King complained that Hemacandra was a very egoistic person and he did not respect Hindu Gods and refuses to bow to lord Shiva. When called upon to visit Siva temple with the King, Hemacandra readily bowed before the idol of Siva, but by saying:

“I am bowing down only to that god, who has destroyed the passions like attachment (raga) and hatred (dvesa) which are the cause of worldly life, whether he is Brahma, Visnu, or Jina.”

At one stroke he ensured that he remained true to tenets of Jainism, namely, a Jain should bow down only to a passionless and detached God (that is, a Jina) and at the same time managed to please the King. Ultimately, the king became a devoted follower of Hemacandra a great champion of Jainism

Even Ravindra Jain , Author of Gyan Mukta, a book on Jainism, says this:

Criticism and questions are welcomed.


@jinesh @Sowmay @Divya @Sarvarth.Jain @Mitali_Jain @Sulabh @Aniteshj

Please do read this and give your view points on this.

Even Ravindra Jain, Author of Gyan Mukta, a book on Jainism, says this:

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Everything is right if it is from heart. And all truths are lie if said for selfish purpose. No one can describe the absolute truth in words, no one. It can just be felt to self.

1.A man who is thinks ear is fan is right in his heart cause that is all he can fell. And man who can see elephant may be wrong if he has got some wrong notions about what an elephant is (example if someone is color blind, that person sees blue as red, his brain is wired that way)

  1. If someone is killing animals for Kali, he may be very right in a way that his brain sees sacrificing animals as a tribute to Kali, i.e. his brain perceive this act as positive notions in his subconscious. He may not be able to see the pains of animals but he could have happily feeling a gift to his mother, a devotion.

  2. You gave example of Alarm in some previous question, here too, ringing of alarm can be seen as probability function. It can rang no matter how hard you try to stop it ringing, at least in probability. There is probability of everything in this Universe, so nothing is right and nothing is wrong, it is just our intention that makes our perception of being a good karma or bad one.

Instead of trying to find the truth, we should just observe what things are without any preconceived judgement, and try to see our ignorance that we are capable of doing something in pudgal.

Do Nothing, No suggestion, Be happy.

I think Anekantwad Philosophy is for those who think they can describe the truth in words. But for those who are already happy enjoying themselves, truth does not matter at all. haha

Let us first discuss anekāntavāda as perceived by Jain scriptures. Will then discuss accordingly.

I have a problem with this. If we look carefully at the statement given by each blind men, say, for instance, ‘it is (like a) wall’, what is the reference point of the word ‘it’ ?

  1. are they referring to the elephant?
  2. are they talking of parts of elephant?

If the latter, then all are absolutely correct. There wouldn’t have been any disagreement.

If the former, then upon combining the perspectives of all six of them, we would get six elephants and not one elephant.

Thus, as per this analysis,

They are not even partially correct.

If this is the case, we need to rethink what the doctrine of anekānta exactly means.

P.S. - This answer requires formatting. Will edit soon.

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Can you please share some Jain scripture written by some Muni which clarifies it? I wrote, As perceived by me, as at that time, I was not completely sure about that. But after getting the point of view of other people of many sects of Jainism, it is not only “perceived by me”.

Bhaiya, the case is former one and according to me it is “Partially correct.”

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By @Sarvarth.Jain

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